Role of the Mentor in the Workplace

I believe society needs to develop a whole army of wise mentors to deal with the stress, confusion and conflict in the workplace. Bosses may not have the mentoring skills to handle their staff.

Mindfulness teachers enter businesses to offer exercises or a room to reduce the stress level. That provides a small step in the right direction. The workplace needs to develop a new kind of culture benefits all workers, not just office workers, and surrounding environment.

Mentors have an important role to play in every area of life to address personal issues, family dynamics, education, culture, sports and spiritual life. We need mentors in the public and private sector.

Bosses, managers, leaders and others charged with responsibility can also act as mentors for those who are not in such a position of authority. As a mentor, the boss or the manager or senior in experience:

  • highlights areas for development
  • offers guidance and wise counsel
  • gives appreciation and nourishment to the staff to develop their sense of self-worth
  • proposes a range of strategies to reach particular goals
  • and remembers to make personal time for those under their wing.

People find it hard to warm to a boss who comes across as controlling and lacking in empathy. Bosses and managers experience pressure in their daily life and can find it hard dealing with yet one more demand from an employee. The employee may have to ask himself or herself whether he or she comes across in a similar way. If so, these two people will not connect but be like ‘ships passing in the night’.

Bosses often claim they are open to feedback from employees. Employees only have the confidence to give feedback, to make suggestions for change, if they experience wise support and much kindness from the bosses. Staff will not speak up if there is any fear of authority. Those who give feedback to employers need to trust their employers to listen to their voice.

If employees feel they will be judged, rejected or retribution, they will keep quiet and mutter among themselves about working conditions, errors of judgement from the bosses and keep wise advice about the products or services to themselves.

At times, the mentor must listen with compassion to the frustrations, disappointments and various issues of the staff or individuals. The power of respectful listening is always important, especially when there is a loss of personal trust and confidence in management. People need to feel confidence in their leaders, otherwise staff will find ways, consciously or unconsciously, to sabotage the vision of the bosses and managers.

It is not unusual for staff to return home to deal with family issues, personal problems, financial hardship and much more. Such issues inadvertently spill-over into the workplace and get mixed up with work issues. It takes a genuine interest and equanimity in the painful dynamics of another to resolve such issues. There are two important priorities in these circumstances:

  1. A person wishes to feel loved.
  2. A person wishes to feel understood.

The mentor needs to keep these two points in the foreground and background of the communication. It may require all the sensitivity and skills of the mentor to communicate those two priorities.

Co-operation, trust, support and fresh initiatives vitalise working life in the public and private sector. The staff need support when they question the ethics, values and methodologies of the organisation. They have the right to question the impact of a strict regime that makes life hard for them.

Employees have the right to question the pay differential, the plight of low paid workers, rules, micro-management and any social or environmental impact of products.

CEOs, shareholders and management need to develop a vision that a company offers a supportive working environment and vital products.

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